SIEW Thinktank Roundtable D: Accelerating ASEAN’s Renewable Energy Transition

SIEW Thinktank Roundtable D hosted by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) examined the factors and market developments impacting renewables adoption across the ASEAN region. By Jerry Lui.

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Renewable energy continues to develop rapidly in ASEAN despite the pandemic. Mr Dolf Gielen, IRENA Innovation and Technology Centre Director, presented key findings from IRENA’s Global Renewables Outlook (GRO) 2020 report released in April—one of which is that Southeast Asia could meet about 41% of all its energy needs from renewable energy by 2030.

The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are important milestones. IRENA would deepen its engagement with ASEAN stakeholders to support its energy transition and enhance climate action in the coming year.

Dr Nuki Agya Utama, Executive Director, ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE), reiterated ASEAN’s commitment to the UN SDGs and the Paris Agreement, sharing his view that the 6th ASEAN Energy Outlook (AEO) and IRENA GRO are important reports to keep in view while countries prepare pandemic recovery plans.

Mr Jonathan Goh, Director of External Relations, of the Energy Market Authority (EMA) of Singapore, said: “Singapore stands ready to accelerate our energy transition by increasing our solar capacity, funding for R&D, and improving energy efficiency and clean energy solutions." 

Speakers from IRENA and ACE proceeded to share their latest research insights.

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IRENA’s Global Renewables Outlook and implications for ASEAN: Mr Ricardo Gorini, Senior Programme Officer (Renewable Energy Roadmaps), IRENA, shared that there needed to be a comprehensive package of deployment policies, such as auctions, feed in tariffs, mandates and targets, complemented by measures that facilitate the integration of renewable energy into power grid and various sectors.

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ACE’s forthcoming ASEAN Energy Outlook 6: Dr Tharinya Supasa, Senior Officer of Energy Policy Planning and Modelling, ACE, shared that the 6th ASEAN AEO was developed to foster stronger collaboration and harmonisation of modelling between ASEAN states. Its models can be disaggregated into 10 individual national models.

Role of renewables and implications for COP26

Mr Ken O’Flaherty, COP26 Regional Ambassador for Asia Pacific and South Asia, shared his assessment that the global energy transition needs to progress at least four times faster than today to meet the Paris Agreement goals. Energy transition was one of the five key campaigns of COP26 and a key focus in Asia. 

COP26 would seek to accelerate the energy transition by encouraging countries, businesses and communities to embrace the economic and social benefits of renewable energy. The UK’s experience showed that emissions reduction and GDP growth can co-exist—the country’s economy has grown by 75% since 1990, while emissions have fallen 43%.

Roundtable discussions on energy transition for the region

Ir Dr Sanjayan Velautham, Chief Executive Officer, Sustainable Energy Development Authority of Malaysia; Milag San-Jose Ballesteros, C40 Regional Director for East, Southeast Asia and Oceania, C40 Cities; Matthew Friedman, Chief Digital Officer, Sembcorp Industries; and Bernard Salha, Senior EVP of R&D, EDF Group held robust discussions and provided country-level perspectives for the energy transition within ASEAN. 

Ricardo Gorini; Aisma Vitina, Special Advisor, DEA Centre for Global Cooperation, Danish Energy Agency; David Wogan, Assistant Vice President, Senior Researcher, Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre; and Tom Moody, Regional Director SE Asia, Climate and Energy, UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office also discussed energy transition at the regional level. 

Be it at the national or regional level, it was clear from the delegates’ perspectives that we can expect the ASEAN region to accelerate the deep decarbonisation process. 

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